News & Media

Following Raids by ICE Officials Using Gangster-Like Tactics, Faith Groups Announce a Series of Sanctuary & “Know Your Rights” Trainings

PICO National Network

February 16, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 16, 2017

CONTACT: Jennifer R. Farmer, 202-306-0136jfarmer@piconetwork.org


Following Raids by ICE Officials Using Gangster-Like Tactics, Faith Groups Announce a Series of Sanctuary & “Know Your Rights” Trainings

The Trainings Come on the Heels of the Arrest of Two Men Who Sought Refuge from Cold Weather in an Alexandria, Church 

WASHINGTON – Following the arrest of two men outside an Alexandria, Va. church, faith leaders with PICO National Network, the nation’s largest faith-based grassroots organization, today rebuked U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Officials (ICE) for employing gangster-like tactics. The men were among a group of individuals seeking shelter from cold weather at a Rising Hope Mission Church. They were picked up as part of a dramatic increase in raids which have seen over 680 people detained since early February.

“We’re seeing a dramatic break in both accepted practice and community norms with respect to the way ICE is separating families via aggressive raids,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, political director for PICO National Network. “No one should worry that a trip to church could result in arrest, detention or deportation. Targeting and intimidating people in or around places of worship is an affront to our creator as places of worship are sacred and should be respected as such.”

Across the nation, undocumented men and women, sisters and brothers are being targeted as they move about their daily lives. Walking to the store, going to church or running an errand are all actions that could make one susceptible to being detained and deported.

“ICE officials are trying to dupe the American people into believing the raids are routine enforcement,” said Eddie Carmona, campaign director for PICO National Network’s LA RED campaign, which works to achieve fair immigration policies. “We know this is far from the truth.” 

Even before the raids began, PICO federations were working to provide safe havens to targeted communities. In Washington, D.C., PICO leaders have organized trainings to instruct congregations on what it means to provide sanctuary. Over 200 people attended the initial training on January 31, 2017 and close to 250 turned out for the follow-up training on February 13, 2017. The next event will be on March 13 at 6 pm EST.

Additionally, the national network will host the following webinars for clergy leaders and targeted communities:

  • Know Your Rights and Preparedness – February 28 at 2 pm EST
  • Sanctuary – March 7 at 2 pm EST
  • Local Sanctuary Policies – March 14 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST

To request more information about the webinars, please contact jfarmer@piconetwork.org.

“As a Christian, it is difficult, perhaps even unconscionable, to accept that something like a national border can separate God's people from one another,” said Pastor Carmine Pernine of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Jersey, a member of PICO federation Faith in New York.  “I, like so many others, was born in the United States through no assertion of will or choice, but by chance! We have no control over our place of birth.”  


PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 45 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.piconetwork.org